He purchased - or possibly smuggled - an over-life-sized composite Greek statue of Bacchus from Italy in 1732, at the end of his second Grand Tour. Unlike many of his other purchases he kept the Bacchus statue for himself, and the Temple of Bacchus was constructed overlooking the lake specifically to house it. It is not known if the fabric of the temple was designed by Adam. It was a small structure (now destroyed), built of wood, plaster and papier-mâché; completed in 1762, and surviving until the 1950s. Its degeneration was accelerated by the removal of the Doric portico from its principal front in 1925, which was added to the east front of the main house. A photograph from 1948 of the temple in a dilapidated state, and without the Doric portico, can be seen in N. Kitz's article 'Adam's Early Folly'.
The only drawings for this building to survive are these for the ceiling, and for a pedestal, of which twelve were executed to support antique busts of Roman emperors. It is not known if Adam's ceiling design was executed although surviving fragments of plasterwork suggest that it was. The statue of Bacchus was sold for £2,000 at Christies in 1797, and is now in the possession of the National Trust at Anglesey Abbey. The new owner of the estate, Benjamin Bond Hopkins, immediately rebuilt the main house to a design by Richard Jupp (1728-99). The temple was largely abandoned following the removal of its sculpture. The entire estate fell into disrepair until it was purchased by Elmbridge Borough Council in 1998, forming the Painshill Park Trust. The Trust intends to reconstruct the Temple of Bacchus to house a cast of the original Bacchus statue.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 7; E. Harris, The furniture of Robert Adam, 1963, pp. 51, 99; I. Nairn, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Surrey, 1971, p. 404; N. Kitz, 'Adam's Early Folly', Country Life, 13 December 1979, p. 2335; D. King, The complete work of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, p. 381; T. Richardson, 'Painshill, Surrey', Country Life, 4 January 2001, pp. 29, 34; A. Laing, 'Bacchus the wanderer: the peregrinations of an antique statue between Painshill Park and Anglesey Abbey', Apollo, National Trust house and collections issue, 2008, pp. 22, 24, 26
Frances Sands, 2011
Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of Painshill, Cobham, Surrey: design for a ceiling and pedestal for the Temple of Bacchus for the Hon. Charles Hamilton, 1761 (5)
- Preliminary design, and finished drawings for a ceiling for the Temple of Bacchus, 1761 (4)
- Preliminary design for a pedestal, 1761, as executed (1)